Along the Garden Path: April in the garden

Along the Garden Path - Charlene Thornhill

There’s always something to be done in the garden, whether it’s pruning, cleaning up sticks and debris, or sowing seeds. April is the time to get started with these activities.

Keep on top of weeding now that the weather is warming up and run a hoe through beds and borders. Look for signs of pests and diseases; early prevention is easier than curing an infestation.

Lift and divide perennial plants to create new plants for your garden. You can divide the hosta before they come into leaf and also divide primroses after they have finished flowering. If you have forced flower bulbs such as hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, which have now finished flowering, they can be planted outdoors in garden borders. Prune forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong young shoots.

Apply a layer of mulch around your perennials, trees and shrubs before the hot weather arrives.

Roses are greedy and needy plants that will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth.

You can start to move evergreen shrubs and trees now provided the soil isn’t frozen or waterlogged.

If any of your garden plants will need supporting this year, put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterward is difficult and may damage the plant. Tie in climbing and rambling roses to their supports.

If you haven’t done so already, finish cutting back any dead foliage left on your perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth.

Continue to plant those beautiful pansies and violas that add so much color to the spring garden. Keep the blooms plucked off to encourage new flowers throughout the spring.

For quick and easy pea supports, push some twiggy sticks around your pea plants now.

Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.

For those with greenhouses — if you haven’t already, give your greenhouse a thorough scrub with hot soapy water to get rid of pests and diseases and to let more light in. Sow tomato seeds indoors and have them ready to plant outside after all risk of frost has passed. If you’re struggling for growing space, buy ready-grown tomato plants. If your greenhouse is heated, start making up your summer hanging baskets with plug plants now and keep them under cover until all risk of frost has passed.

Check your compost bins to see if there is any compost ready to use. Improve the drainage of heavy soils by incorporating plenty of organic matter.

Top off raised beds with compost and good quality topsoil. Top-dress containers with fresh compost. If containers are full, remove the top quarter of old compost and replace with new.

Make sure bird baths and bird feeders are kept clean to encourage birds to your garden.

Get out and enjoy the spring season!

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who writes for AIM Media Midwest. She can be reached at

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill